Jazzed for 6th birthday

DESPITE a gruelling battle with cancer and the collapse of live music venues in Perth, Graham Wood is still wearing a Louis Armstrong smile as The Ellington celebrates its sixth birthday this month.

Co-owner Wood will celebrate but not indulge in any Charlie Parker-style debauchery: in 2013 he underwent a 13-hour “high-risk” operation to remove a rare form of cancer from his bile ducts.

He shed 20kg in two-and-a-half-weeks, as well as half his liver.

Doctors had been reluctant to operate due to the high risk of death.

“I certainly have a different lifestyle approach now, including no alcohol, no tobacco, a healthy diet and plenty of sleep,” Mr Wood says.

“I don’t play late shows, as a pianist, at The Ellington anymore—my rest is more important.”

A spate of live music venues in Perth has recently closed, including The Bakery, Ya-Ya’s and Deville’s Pad.

Mr Wood says the key to survival is keeping the line-up fresh and being financially prudent.

“Live music venues are always marginal propositions from a commercial perspective and so it’s important to be prudent with how much money gets spaced around,” he says.

“The biggest challenge for the club is keeping the venue moving forward, featuring new and interesting things, 600 shows a year.”

by STEPHEN POLLOCK

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